Andrew Heaney takes a step backward in Angels’ 5-3 loss to Mariners
On his 27th birthday, Andrew Heaney produced what his manager called “a masterpiece.”
Six days later, Heaney churned out something that looked more like a knocked-over can of paint.
It was a mess.
The left-hander followed the first complete game of his career with something decidedly less complete Monday night in a 5-3 loss to the Seattle Mariners.
He retired only nine batters and none of the five he faced in the fourth inning. Heaney’s three-inning start was his shortest since September.
“Just looked like he missed some spots with his fastball,” manager Mike Scioscia said. “It didn’t seem like he got settled in to repeat pitches like he did his last start.”
The Angels arrived at Safeco Field after winning seven of their previous nine games, a successful stretch during which they gained nothing on the first-place Mariners, who had won eight of 10.
The hotter of the two teams showed itself at the expense of a pitcher who couldn’t have started the game in a much more confident position.
In his previous start, last week in Anaheim, Heaney pitched a one-hit shutout against the Kansas City Royals. Afterward, he talked about the thrill of shaking hands with his teammates on the field after the final out, saying, “I’ll try to do it again.”
Then the Mariners stepped to the plate and, after only four batters, doubled the hit total Heaney had given up against the Royals.
He eventually surrendered two home runs to Nelson Cruz and one to Ryon Healy, the Mariners connecting for more than 1,200 collective feet of carnage.
“Giving up homers never wins you games,” Heaney said. “Not like that. Not that early. Not that often.”
In eight of his first 10 starts, Heaney gave up no home runs. He’d given up only one since April 20, a span of 511/3 innings.
So, on a night that started with Heaney throwing eight consecutive strikes, the Mariners were the ones who delivered the early knockout.
The game soured quickly for the Angels after starting with much promise. Mike Trout and Albert Pujols both homered in the first inning against former Angel Wade LeBlanc, a soft-serving left-hander who turned out to be more baffling than brilliant.
After the first, LeBlanc and his mid-80s arsenal shut out the Angels over the next four innings.
His defining moment ended the fifth, LeBlanc striking out Justin Upton after intentionally walking Trout to load the bases. The deciding pitch reached only 83.6 mph.
“He just kind of gives you a different look every pitch,” Scioscia said. “He reminds me of the way Jamie Moyer used to pitch here.”
LeBlanc was with the Angels twice during the 2014 season, his tenure in Anaheim interrupted when he was claimed off waivers by the New York Yankees, for whom he pitched a single inning and gave up two runs.
For the Angels, he appeared in 10 games (three starts), going 1-1 with a 3.45 ERA.
Following LeBlanc’s departure, the Angels had chances against the Seattle bullpen. But they failed to score after Luis Valbuena’s one-out double in the seventh and after putting two runners on with two outs in the eighth.
A day after stranding eight runners in a loss at Minnesota, Trout did his part, delivering a second home run to lead off the eighth.
This came after he fouled a ball off his shin in the third, a development that had him undergoing X-rays following the game. The test revealed no fractures.
“It’s a bruise,” Trout said. “It’s baseball.”
He said he expected to play Tuesday, not surprising since the homer he hit off his hurting leg traveled an estimated 459 feet.
“Missed a couple fastballs before that,” Trout explained. “Didn’t miss that one.”
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